Youth workers stage industrial action on Prime Minister’s home patch over job losses

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Youth workers in the prime minister’s home patch of Oxfordshire have vowed to battle on to save the county’s top class youth service as they stage their third strike action today on the steps of County Hall, Oxford.

Unite has had no response from Oxfordshire County Council to a request for talks to end the dispute over job losses, changes to terms and conditions and the wipe out of the youth service profession, which has already seen workers stage two days of one day walk-outs.

The walk-outs are uniting young people in the area with one local young man, 17-year-old Jordan Rolfe, making a direct appeal to the prime minister to intervene to ensure that others get the same help tackling substance abuse that he got from youth workers in Banbury.

The action comes just days after 21 young people and youth workers travelled from Banbury, Oxfordshire to London to join the Choose Youth lobby of Parliament, where more than 1,000 young people from across the country urged MPs to stop coalition cuts ripping the youth service apart.

Oxfordshire County Council plans to slash youth service funding from £3.7 million to £1.4 million, making the country one of the lowest contributors to youth services in the country.

The jobs of 80 professional youth workers are under threat, as the conservative-led council pushes ahead with plans to off-load the running of its 26 youth clubs and two-detached youth teams.

Mike Beal, Unite branch chair for community and youth workers, who spoke at the Choose Youth lobby: said: “The council’s continued refusal to get around the negotiating table to end this dispute is hurting the most vulnerable young people in the county at a time when they need the support of trained professionals more than ever.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. Our members would much rather be doing their jobs, reaching out to young people who struggle to engage, live in poverty or just need someone to talk to.

“Yet, the council’s failure to address the concerns of its youth workers shows just how little it values the role they play in turning young lives around.

“Our members are ready to negotiate, but remain determined to challenge Oxfordshire County Council which spends less than one pence per day on its young people. This falls well short of the measly national average of 28p spent per day per day young person.”


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